Renaissance Rome, Wesleyan University, Laurie discussed on Ideas
Hello hello to get a better sense of renaissance Italy and what reputation meant to people in those days we spoke to Larry Nassar Dover. I'm Laurie now. Stewart for and I'm professor America Data History and letters at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. My specialty is history of early modern Europe and in particular Roman Italy Italy. She's also an expert on early modern masculinity and gender in Renaissance Rome. She points out that the medieval concept of honor still held sway in that period period. Honor is a quality of respect that everyone felt they were owed in medieval and Renaissance Times. We have have a notion of respect in contemporary time. Sits based on are being an individual Our sense of a What we're owed in terms of respect is based on being human being and back then what you were road in terms of respect with based on your social status in your gender and how did that play out then in terms of the average person wandering around Renaissance Rome for example? We can't do averages right because it depends on social status gender but if you were a woman and someone put an insulting picture on your door your own honor would be as a woman would be shamed by that but it would be the man who was the head of the household whether it was your father your brother or your husband who had to Exact a penalty against whoever wise that had shamed you so for men. There honor was vulnerable. Both your personal insult and also to insult to family household so woman under their protection had to be benched if her honor was offended did and of course. They had to avenge their own on our if it was offended in any way so it sounds like a fulltime job. Then this protection it is. It's something that on an everyday basis people of all range of social status and gender are aware of at all times. If you are insulted or you're in a group of men and in which one of your companions insulted you're required to respond in some aggressive way you're not allowed to just sit there and take it and turn the other cheek. The way can happen. You just let it turn the other cheek you lose social face you lose respect your social identity out there in the world is impaired. People will whisper about you or attack Tanuku behind your back and you may also be attacked by large groups of talks at other points because you have not stood up for a yourself. Defending honor was a particular obsession back then stepped onto the street. And you'd be constantly focused on hierarchies and powerplays so if you're a man strolling down a narrow alleyway you have to figure out whether the guy coming towards you should be given the right of way because he's from a family or what if you're splashed by mud is someone. The posh carriage passes by was just an accident or was it a death and because of that you have to be ready to defend your honor. There's very dangerous. I mean if I have to defend my honour any given moment I could end up in a dual you could actually end up in a fight. Duels are specific kind of fight with lots of rules around them. The dual has its own special history as a way of negotiating. Honor if you are assaulted assaulted or insulted in some way by someone who or by group of people who you think are lower rank than you then you don't the challenge them or challenge person to dual you go home and get your band of thugs to lie in. Wait for them tonight. But if someone of your equal rank insults you're offends you then you might challenge them to a duel in order to avenge venture honor and that goes back to the Middle Ages. The dual was originally a way of establishing the truth of a claim came in a conflict in which God would be the one who would decide who was who was right and who was wrong in the conflict and going back to the idea of status this and symbolism and embodiment of status what did carrying a sword represent that was the symbol all of your noble status your status as the gentleman and you're banned hood. Everyone male or female. Whatever class class had their sense of honor but the sword was assigned that you were in the retinue of gentleman or you were the gentleman and that you were man it's also way to retaliate? So it's something that you hope will strike fear into shoe anyone who might threaten you and so the fancier your sword than the more manly you are and more powerful you are to the people around you know. I think it's your skill in using your sword and how many men you have around you. Who have them ready to respond to your command? So it's not the sword it's it looks yes looking back on. This may be an end of an nearer in a sense of that honor system. What do you think about leaving that behind a loss? I think honor is ridiculous. I think that people are owed respect on the basis. They're being human beings. There are peaceful ways in which you can bring up your your complaints about how you've been treated and sometimes you need to organize support for that. But I think all of that can be conducted to peacefully that we don't have to resort to weapons. Is there anything that we can take from the era of the dual that a AH or twenty-first-century could learn from well. I like the idea of having president's challenge each other to what do will and having conflicts resolved by those two individuals fighting it out rather than armies because there's going going to be less loss of life but this has not been a popular remedy in history it would make things much more efficient on the international relations nations scale. We use that money for something else. I want a Putin versus Trudeau Dolphin. Whoever wins xactly we know there are? You can make arguments on the Lori. Thank you so much for this time and for your insights place. Her Lorena store for is a professor emeritus of history and letters at Wesleyan university stay at PhD student. Aaron media is back in studio with us. Hi Erin Hello. We have covered some basics now. We heard about notions of honour. We know that jewel is complex and ritualistic and not just a sword fight but can meet zoom in on what you're looking at. What what are we still need to understand and about what was happening with the deal during this period so much probably while it's fresh in mind it's best to kind of start with what Lori was talking about? I mean one of the really big things. I think that's really really useful to to understand. is the collective nature of everything going on as powder formulas I I believe. That's the appropriate term right. The head of the household you're responsible for the servants. The women in there and you're responsible for their honor that's a sign of reputation as well so it's like he treats a family well he treats the servants well. This collective notion has to become much bigger and I think this is one of the the barriers that may make what Laurie describes about negotiating. The streets seems so alien to us because we have the sense of the ability to be anonymous in our societies. If you really want to get a sense of the way Roman city works you have to understand the size of it and it's not Toronto. A medium sized Italian city will be the size of Smith Falls. It's it's very much that small town kind of attitude where everyone knows everyone. Everyone talks about everything. One of the things that allows us to go about our business the way we do without having to negotiate the streets in the same way as we can put those people besides just them. We never have to meet them again. We never have to worry about them. There's an entire world I can have outside of them. You can't do that in the renaissance but there are fallacies that have grown up. Because of essentially I think it's called survivor survivor bias. and has to do with what remains to be found. And in this case it's kind of library bias. Your quarrel has to make it to paper and then that that paper has to survive now has a greater chance of surviving if it's printed because there's GonNa be more copies of it so we're talking about what has to happen if you're going to be registered by historians is an steady exactly right and so who can afford to have a printed. It's not the pedestrian on the street. It's gentlemen it's the aristocrats kratz right. And that's a lot of these that I'm dealing with them. A printed form are aristocrats however in the criminal archives in Rome. I've come across people like Shalini or booksellers or guys who just own a house in a little village outside of Rome and so these notions are not necessarily aristocratic radic in the sixteenth century. These these concepts of honor exist across the strata of Italian society by looking at the criminal archives and the prosecutions against duelling done by the lower. We're classes you start to see that honor and this. This whole system of negotiation with the threat of death in a duel on the line is universal throughout Italian society..